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The Neil Gaiman Cameo You Missed In The Sandman's Dream Of A Thousand Cats

Although the live-action version of "The Sandman" arrived on Netflix on August 5, 2022, the streaming service had a surprise for fans of the Dreaming and beyond with a bonus episode released on August 19. It continues the story of the comics by Neil Gaiman, following "Dream of a Thousand Cats" and "Calliope." The two-part episode is a fascinating addition to the show, mainly because the first part — which follows a feline adventure — is completely animated. It's a faithful adaptation of the story in the comics, which takes place in "The Sandman" #18 and reveals the surprising history of cats over the years.

The second part of the episode follows the "Calliope" story from "The Sandman" #17 — where author Richard Madoc (Arthur Darvill) holds the Greek Muse Calliope (Melissanthi Mahut) hostage to keep his ideas flowing, so he can be a worldwide success. It's a haunting tale that only adds to the endlessly interesting stories about Morpheus (Tom Sturridge) and his experiences over the millennia.

Although Season 2 hasn't been greenlit yet, showrunner Allan Heinberg teased what's ahead when speaking to Entertainment Weekly, saying, "We've had a writers' room for Season 2 and I'm working on the scripts now. 'Season of Mists' is something I'm really looking forward to." He added, "The end of Episode 1, if we move forward, is Dream saying to Matthew, 'I'm going to Hell and I may not come back.' So then Episode 2 begins with the rematch between Dream and Lucifer."

The buzz around the series hopefully means the show will return, but if it doesn't — at least Gaiman is safe in the knowledge that he bagged himself a surprising cameo in Episode 11.

Neil Gaiman voices the skull crow

"Dream of a Thousand Cats" follows a young tabby kitten (Rosie Day) who goes on a pilgrimage at night with her friend, the grey cat (David Gyasi), to listen to a nomadic siamese cat called the Prophet (Sandra Oh) as she recounts the true history of cats. She explains that after witnessing her half-breed kittens get taken away to be drowned by her owner Paul (Michael Sheen), she realizes that cats aren't as free as they think they are. So the Prophet prays to Morpheus, and she enters the Dreaming in search of answers.

But the first being she meets is a crow with a fleshless spine and skull extending out of its feathered body. After briefly questioning the Prophet, it points her in Morpheus' direction but warns her that it's a dangerous journey. The crow is voiced by none other than Neil Gaiman himself, and his grand voice fits perfectly in the mysterious role. Considering how many characters appear in the series, it's surprising that the writer shows up here — but then it also makes the bonus episode feel extra special.

When speaking to Netflix's Tudum blog, showrunner Allan Heinberg briefly discussed his performance, saying, "He's got one of the best voices. Once we got into the booth, there was nothing reticent about him. He really wanted to be more crowlike and would flap his arms and fearlessly work for it."

Hopefully, there's room for the writer to get a live-action cameo in Season 2.